Thursday, March 17, 2016

What Bernie Sanders taught us

By all accounts the campaign of Bernie Sanders is effectively over after Tuesday's results. He may stay in the race, and he may even win some additional states. His path toward nomination though, is just not there.

However, Bernie taught us quite a lot though during his campaign. If you look at his results, almost 80% of those under age 30 supported Bernie. This is quite amazing because Bernie is not an eloquent speaker (he evidently has not read How to Talk Like TED), nor does he remind anyone of JFK when he first appeared on television during his run to the Presidency.

And yet, millions of people felt the Bern, as they say. What was it about him?

I would say it had less to do with him than it did with what he had to say. More importantly, it was what his headlines said -- Free college and free healthcare. (I know he meant free public college tuition but it transformed into free college). Sure there was an insurgency factor, and even an anti-Hillary factor. But, Free is enticing. Free resonates. Free catches attention.

We live in a headline and sound-bite society where very few people read past the headlines and fail to research beyond the sound bites for context and clarity.

For Bernie though, his problem became the fact that he wasn't selling a quick purchase, meaning people could not buy his product immediately. So, over time, the narrative moved toward the content of what he had to offer and away from the free. It became more about the cost of his proposals and the inability to sustain them. In short, content started to matter because it was a long purchase cycle.

He still has followers, and those who would still purchase what he has to offer. It is easy to buy something free. However, more people began to understand the consequences of free.

Reminds me of the virtual schools who hang their hats on tuition-free as the hook, the headline, the sound bite. Now that time has passed for each of them, it has become apparent what the actual costs of that tuition-free looks like.

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